What Is The Main Purpose Of The Digestive System – We all have a digestive system, but we don’t usually like to talk about it. Still, digestive problems are quite common in the United States. In fact, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (a division of the NIH), about 70 million Americans are affected by some type of digestive disorder each year. This also means tens of millions of visits to doctors’ offices and hospitals, as well as disruptions to people’s quality of life. In a surprisingly large number of these cases, however, the disorder can be prevented or adjusted. The first step is to understand more about how the digestive system works.
All of the body’s systems are crucial to life, of course, but the digestive system is important because it is the means by which we acquire all energy – or
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What Is The Main Purpose Of The Digestive System
– necessary to continue functioning. In the simplest terms, the digestive system takes the food you eat and processes it into energy that can be used by every cell in your body. The digestive system also gathers everything left over from this process and eliminates it from the body as waste.
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By definition, digestion is simple, but in practice it is a complex process with many different parts (and also many different things that “malfunction”). The gastrointestinal tract makes up the majority of the digestive system and includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus. In addition to the gastrointestinal tract, the liver, pancreas and gallbladder contribute various digestive juices that aid in the process of breaking down food and absorbing nutrients into the bloodstream.
As noted, one of the most important functions of the digestive system is to transform the fats, carbohydrates and proteins found in food into energy in the form of glucose; Furthermore, excess glucose is stored as fat for future use. However, providing energy to be used by cells is not the only purpose of digestion. Food also contains vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients that are vital for the growth and repair of the body. Through the digestive process, the body extracts what it needs and excretes the remains along with other waste (such as old or damaged cells).
The basic function of the gastrointestinal tract is to take whole food and divide it into smaller and smaller parts through successive sections of the system. This is largely achieved through a process known as peristalsis, a series of contractions in the smooth muscle that surrounds most of the gastrointestinal tract. These peristaltic contractions, together with enzymes from the digestive juices, gradually move a mass of ingested food through the digestive system. This process is aided by the enteric nervous system and a variety of hormones.
Mouth: The mouth is obviously the entry point of the digestive system, and the teeth and tongue are the first step in breaking down food. The teeth, aided by secretions from the salivary glands, crush and grind the food until it forms a mass that can be swallowed so that the tongue can push it down the throat (pharynx). A small flap of tissue called the epiglottis automatically covers the trachea to prevent suffocation.
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Esophagus: After swallowing and food enters the esophagus, the digestive process becomes automated until the final act. Through gravity and peristalsis, chewed food (known as food
) goes down the esophagus and passes through the lower esophageal sphincter into the stomach; This sphincter muscle also closes automatically to prevent stomach contents from returning to the esophagus.
Stomach: When the food bolus reaches the stomach, it has already been largely broken down. The process of peristalsis and stomach acid break it down until it becomes mostly a liquid known as
Digestive Juices: The duodenum is a transition point where the contents of the stomach mix with gastric juices from the liver, pancreas and gallbladder. The combination of these elements marks the last major phase of the decomposition of food materials.
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Small Intestine: In addition to helping to break down solids that still remain in the chyme, gastric juices also contain digestive enzymes that help extract nutrients. The walls of the other sections of the small intestine (jejunum and ileum) absorb some water and most of the nutrients that the body will use. After the long journey through the small intestine, the remaining substance is mostly liquid waste.
Large Intestine: Although waste products entering the large intestine are mostly liquids, they can also include indigestible parts of food and even old cells from the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. As peristalsis continues to move material from the ascending colon to the transverse colon and descending colon, most of the water is absorbed and stool begins to form. The stool ultimately collects in the sigmoid colon and rectum, where it awaits evacuation.
Anus: As feces are stored in the rectum, your conscious control comes back into play. A complex (and unconscious) process moves feces through an internal sphincter until a signal is sent to the brain in the form of an urge to defecate. Sphincters in the rectum and anus push feces out during a bowel movement.
Due to the complexity of the digestive system, there are countless ways it can be disrupted or damaged. Two of the most common gastrointestinal problems are diarrhea and constipation. Both conditions are related to intestinal motility, which is the relative speed at which waste moves through the colon; Higher than normal motility tends to cause diarrhea and lower than normal motility tends to cause constipation.
Digestive System Information And Facts
A wide range of gastrointestinal disorders arise due to inflammation along the digestive tract. Heartburn, GERD, ulcers, and hemorrhoids are just a few examples of conditions that involve inflammation along the inner lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to a variety of symptoms and complications. Unfortunately, there are also several types of cancer that can occur in the digestive system; Colorectal cancer is one of the most common examples.
However, although there are several possible problems that can occur in the digestive system, the truth is that many can be avoided through lifestyle choices. What you eat, how much physical activity you get, and your smoking and drinking habits are all important factors in maintaining digestive health. By being mindful of these choices now, you can avoid future digestive health problems.
At Cary Gastro, we are dedicated to providing high-quality, compassionate digestive care to all of our patients. If you are experiencing symptoms related to your gastrointestinal tract or have general concerns about your digestive health, please contact us to request a consultation.
Make an appointment today at one of our offices in the Cary, Raleigh, Holly Springs, and Triangle area. We are committed to providing you with the most comprehensive quality of gastroenterology care. The function of the digestive system is to break down the food you eat, release its nutrients, and absorb them into the body. Although the small intestine is the workhorse of the system, where most digestion occurs and where most of the released nutrients are absorbed into the blood or lymph, each of the organs of the digestive system makes a vital contribution to this process.
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As with all systems in the body, the digestive system does not function in isolation; works cooperatively with the body’s other systems. Consider, for example, the interrelationship between the digestive and cardiovascular systems. Arteries deliver oxygen and processed nutrients to the digestive organs, and veins drain the digestive tract. These intestinal veins, which constitute the hepatic portal system, are unique; they do not return blood directly to the heart. Instead, this blood is diverted to the liver, where its nutrients are offloaded for processing before the blood completes its circuit back to the heart. At the same time, the digestive system provides nutrients to the heart muscle and vascular tissue to support their function. The interrelationship of the digestive and endocrine systems is also critical. Hormones secreted by several endocrine glands, as well as the endocrine cells of the pancreas, stomach and small intestine, contribute to the control of digestion and nutrient metabolism. In turn, the digestive system provides the nutrients to fuel endocrine function. Table 1 gives a quick idea of how these other systems contribute to the functioning of the digestive system.
Mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue and other lymphatic tissues defend against entry of pathogens; dairy products absorb lipids; and lymphatic vessels transport lipids to the bloodstream
The easiest way to understand the digestive system is to divide its organs into two main categories. The first group are the organs that make up the alimentary canal. The accessory digestive organs constitute the second group and are essential for orchestrating the breakdown of food and the assimilation of its nutrients by the body. The accessory digestive organs, despite their name, are essential for the functioning of the digestive system.
Also called the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or intestine, the alimentary canal (aliment- = “nourish”) is a unidirectional tube about 7.62 meters (25 feet) long during life and closer to 10.67 meters.
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